[Ip-health] Dr. Hamied on molnupiravir

James Love james.love at keionline.org
Sat Oct 23 09:54:22 PDT 2021

From:  Eastern Eye, October 20, 2022


DR YUSUF HAMIED has confirmed Cipla, his pharma company in India, has been
given a licence to manufacture a new anti-Covid pill called Molnupiravir.


Hamied is confident the drug will become available in the UK after getting
the green light from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory
Agency (MHRA). “The raw materials for the drug are made under contract in
India,” he pointed out.

“It is their (Merck’s) invention. It is their monopoly. They are charging a
price for their monopo- ly. And in India, they’ve licensed eight companies,
including Cipla, to cater to India. We are free to market at whatever price
we want, which is a big, big, big, big favour.”

He added: “In America, they’ve kept the price for a five-day course of
treatment at about $700 (£506). In India, the price should be around $20.”

Since Molnupiravir is in the form of a pill, Hamied speculated: “Like a
vaccine you get protection. This will be very useful for the anti-vaxxers.
Those who have not taken the vaccine would certainly benefit from this. I
don’t know whether they would object to tak- ing a tablet. Maybe 10 per
cent will. But I don’t think, by and large, the anti-vaxxers will object.”

Although Cipla is among Indian pharmaceuticals manufacturing Molnupiravir,
it has yet to be approved for use in India.

On pricing, Hamied recalled “what Cipla did for AIDS 20 years ago. We
marketed it at $1 a day. In AIDS, there were three chemicals made by three
different companies. They couldn’t put it all to- gether. I put it all
together in one tablet. So instead of an AIDS patient taking 12 tablets a
day, it came down to two tablets a day - sunrise and sunset.”

He went on: “Perhaps ultimately – and I stress the word ‘ultimately’ – we
will be able to treat Covid also at $1 a day. It is like what happened with
hepatitis C. The American price was $84,000 – and the Indian price $250.”

Hamied said although Merck was first out with Molnupiravir “two other
companies were close behind with something similar. It can’t be identical.
One is Pfizer, the other is Roche.”

Hamied’s long term view is that “Covid has come to stay. Like you’ve got
flu, you will have Covid for the rest of our lives. How serious or not it’s
going to be is an- other question. But I have a funny feeling that like you
talk about pneumonia, you talk about flu, you will have Covid also for


Jenelle Krishnamoor- thy, Merck’s vice president for global policy, told
the paper: “We really did have a responsibility that, if this drug was
found to be a safe and effective oral drug that someone could take at home,
we need to make sure that, especially in low and middle-income countries
where they don’t have the strongest health care systems, that this would
have very wide access.”


“Then you have fewer health systems incapacitated and a greater economic
recovery for the benefit of everyone,” said Brook Baker, a law professor at
Northeastern University who is part of a therapeutics access effort led by
the WHO. Even from a somewhat self-interested perspective, it’s
short-sighted and counterproductive not to ensure access to these

James Love.  Knowledge Ecology International
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U.S. office phone +1.202.332.2670
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